With a particular focus on sustainable, compostable and biodegradable packaging, Bob Cork Agencies (BCA) has gained a sterling reputation as a dedicated flexible packaging supplier, developing lasting relationships between local and international manufacturers and South African customers.
Included in the line-up of BCA’s foreign principals are Esko, a global leader in packaging and prepress software; and KP-Tech, a supplier of APET materials.
Since its inception in 1981, KP-Tech, based in Korea, has evolved as a market leader in its core businesses. For instance, it occupies a market leading position in the supply of PVC for pharmaceutical blister-packaging, meeting or exceeding European quality and standards for primary packaging.
However, highly significant from BCA’s point of view, KP-Tech is also a technology frontrunner in the field of sustainable and recyclable rPET-based films for thermoformed packaging. The company manufactures recyclable packaging films including APET and PET derivatives, primarily using rPET from recycled PET bottles.
When Bob Cork learnt of this, he conducted further research and discovered the APET material was a three-layer coextrusion.
‘The coextrusion comprises 10% virgin APET, 80% post-consumer recycled waste, and 10% virgin APET,’ Bob Cork explains. ‘The primary contributors are recycled water and carbonated soft drink bottles,’ he adds.
Introducing the concept to local retailer and converters, Bob was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response.
‘Since then (October last year), we’ve imported at least 10 container loads of material including rPET (100% recycled), and recently, thanks to KP-Tech’s R&D skills, we’ve also launched a product called Medishield, an optical grade of APET with an inner anti-fog coating and an outer anti-scratch coating, both protected by peelable polyethylene surface protection films. This product is aimed at converters of face shields/visors and two shipments of some 30 tons are already on their way to us,’ Bob reports.
In addition to these topical materials, KP-Tech offers a microwave stable film – a 400µm recyclable PET – for forming trays (often multi-compartment trays) for the ready-to-eat meal market, a retail category that’s shown significant growth during the lockdown with people unable to eat out.
‘This is currently being evaluated and results so far are positive. The material can be microwaved at up to 105°C,’ Bob continues.
‘As PET has a well-established and well-structured recycling stream in South Africa, we’re placing the focus on this attribute as the single most important feature of all our mono-web materials. The other major attributes, of course, are clarity and sparkle,’ Bob adds.
Sustainable flexible packaging
But that’s not the end of the story.
BCA has also partnered with Swiss company, Wipf, a manufacturer of retort pouches, bags, reel stock and other flexible packaging products, including a recyclable mono-PP pouch, with or without a zipper, meeting high-barrier specifications for products with long shelf-life.
For the past two decades, Wipf has become well known in South Africa as a supplier of one-way degassing valves to exhaust CO2 build-up in packaging for coffee beans and ground coffee,
and is now producing a compostable version of this product.
The company has, in fact, been developing functional and convenient food and other packaging since 1914.
Among its latest developments are mono-material packaging that represents a game-changing ecological evolution. Using only one material allows selective sorting and optimal recycling, representing a big step toward a sustainable circular economy.
Instead of using laminates composed of different materials – such as PET/ALU/PE – using only one laminate material is possible and meaningful.
Wifp produces two- and three-ply laminates based on mono-material (PP), with or without barriers, that facilitate recycling – certainly a great alternative to conventional laminates.
BCA’s recycled plastic core for the flexible packaging industry is produced by an irrigation piping partner.
Recycled plastic bags are best
Among local agencies, BCA represents East London-based Leader Packaging (Leaderpak), a manufacturer of coextruded HDPE and LDPE plastics for multiple packaging applications. This company has a major focus on recycled plastics bags for the retail sector, and is among those manufacturers welcoming the recent findings released by the CSIR (Council for Scientific & Industrial Research), confirming that reusable, plastic shopping bags have the lowest environmental footprint compared to carrier bags made from alternative materials. See full report on page 15 of this issue of PPM.
In addition, on the local front, BCA has formed a partnership with a manufacturer of irrigation piping, to launch a recycled plastic core for use in the flexible packaging industry.
‘The strength of the core allows for reuse time and time again, and it’s particularly suitable for use for rolls of sterile material in food or pharmaceutical environments. Priced at similar levels to cartonboard, this is a superior solution to a problem that has long frustrated HACCP and BRC inspectors,’ Bob contends.
‘We have always had a philosophy of conscious packaging solutions,’ and these exciting additions to our armoury of sustainable packaging products is just another example of living up to our principles,’ are Bob’s closing words.